A Writing Craft Review
of the screenplay written by Guy Hibbert for “Eye In The Sky” directed by Gavin Hood
(These are snap judgements devoid of plot summaries and prone to spoilers) rating 5 out of 5
“Good Kill” TIFF’s 2014 presentation about drone warfare focused primarily upon how the use of drones impacted the mental status of drone pilots forced to fight this war without having to put any “skin in the game”.
This year’s film on the same subject, “Eye in the Sky”, expands the range of discussion. By creating what amounts to a long internet conversation the scriptwriter brings together high-ranking politicians and military officers in the USA, Great Britain, and Uganda where a suicide bomber is preparing for a mission.The plot is the classic choice between saving the lives of many people we don’t know by sacrificing one life that has become precious to us.
Working under pressure to make a decision to release a drone missile the discussants are forced by circumstances to round all the legal and morals bases. There are few extraneous conversations and minimal scripted elements of character development but the conversation is structured with considerable subtlety so the various arguments for or against this particular strike are expressed humanly. That subtlety allows the scriptwriter to really examine the full range of emotional issues that surround the use of drones while avoiding the film industry’s pervasive tendency to construct polarized characters that are either all good or all bad.
Though this could have been a script full of dry polemics mixed with cheesy melodrama but the dialogue is deftly constrained by both the scriptwriter and the director and finally by a very experienced and talented cast.
Good line: Never tell a soldier he does not know the cost of war.